Bypass Road review: Neil Nitin Mukesh’s debut as a producer, screenwriter only leads to a dead end

And younger brother Naman’s directorial debut is nothing short of a disaster

Rating: 1 /5

By Mayur Lookhar

One hates to keep harping on nepotism, but each time Bollywood throws up a disaster, then the ‘bhaichara’ (brotherhood), ‘parivaarwad’ (nepotism) associated with that film inevitably comes into question.  Early this year, Sunny Deol copped much criticism for launching his incompetent son Karan with Pal Pal Dil Ke Pass (2019).  We now have another bhaichara show this Friday with Neil Nitin Mukesh and his younger brother Naman collaborating to give the murder mystery Bypass Road.

It’s a first foray into direction for Naman, while older brother Neil gets a taste of what is it like to produce, pen a story, screenplay and dialogues.  We are not surprised as to Neil playing the lead too.  How have the siblings fared? That comes later but first let’s give you a gist of the story.

The plot revolves around the uber rich Kapoor family. The Kapoors work in the city but have chosen the coastal town of Alibaug for their sprawling residence.   Ace fashion designer Vikram Kapoor’s (Neil Nitin Mukesh) accident and his company super model Sarah Braganza’s {Shama Sikander) alleged suicide in the same hour can’t just be coincidental.  The needle of suspicion falls onto a jilted lover Jimmy (Taher Shabbir), a disgraced former employee Narang (Sudanshu Pandey) and a step mother Romila (Gul Panag).  When did step-mothers ever play noble souls in Bollywood?

They have money, power but the father Pratap Kapoor [Rajit Kapoor] is worried that perhaps the family is deep in trouble.  This whodunnit saga is nothing but another case of old wine in a new bottle.  In the 90s, a similar [rip off] tale helped change the career of a current superstar.  Neil simply adds a few different shades to his character than the one played by the superstar.

Resorting to a familiar story is fine, but what’s seriously lacking is a strong screenplay and efficient writing.  Another case of an actor over estimating his abilities.  The rushed writing, poorly constructed scenes feel like craters not potholes on this Bypass Road. It’s made all the more insufferable by embarrassing performances.  It’s only Rajit Kapoor and Neil Nitin Mukesh who briefly play true to their potential. The rest are simply pedestrian.  Gul Panag, Shama Sikander, Sudanshu Pandey, Manish Chaudhari (cop Roy), Taher Shabbir  all are vying for the worst performer of the year.  And there’s a little cameo from a nauseating TV journalist too. The jury of Golden Kela [India’s Razzies] will be thrilled to find five worthy contenders in just one film.

His haters are many and one is also suspicious of Vikram’s new girl friend Radhika’s [Adah Sharma] conduct. Sharma’s simply wasted in a poor film.  

One has to feel sorry for seasoned actor Mukesh Bhatt who is used like a slave by the Kapoors.  The heartless rich expect him to be at their service at the clinch of a finger. In a bizarre scene,  Vikram lashes out at his step mother and slams a photo frame to the ground.  Romila hurts her finger. Pratap steps in, immediately calls out Kaka (Bhatt) to clean the mess, then orders him to bring medical aid and in the next sentence he’s told to ready the food.   In another scene, he’s helping the now handicapped Vikram get bath before he’s called by Romila to make tea.  The poor man is running from pillar to post.  It is surprising that despite serving the Kapoors for decades, Kaka hasn’t gone nuts in this oppressive environment.

In a murder mystery, it’s always the key action, thrill sequences that need to stand out. There is a near 15-minute thrill sequence where Vikram is outsmarting the masked killer in his house. No dialogue here. However, the poorly action choreography reduces it to a joke. Burn him, hang him by a cloth, run him down by a car, and yet the masked killer stands back on his feet.  

The background music is no great and neither is the music.  Neil’s father Nitin Mukesh may not be too proud of the poor remake of his classic song So Gaya Yeh Jahan from Tezaab (1988).  

Perhaps the only appealing thing about Bypass Road is the picturesque meadows of Alibaug and the swanky Kapoor residence.  Production designer Jayshree Laxmi Narayan has earned her every rupee here. One wishes though that Neil had also made the right creative investment. 

Upon his return to home after the long hospitalisation, the wheelchair bound Vikram doesn’t need any sympathy. He argues with his girl friend telling her to leave him alone. “Mazaak toh main mera ban gaya han duniya ke saamne” [I have been reduced to a joke in front of the world], Vikram tells Radhika. Well, there is increasing danger of this film reducing the brothers to a joke.

After a promising start with Johnny Gaddaar (2007), Neil Nitin Mukesh has only flattered to deceive. In the past, the blame game would have been pointed towards those filmmakers, producers. Bypass Road though is a home production.  The blame for this Bypass Road blunder squarely lies at the Neil and Naman Nitin Mukesh door step. This Bypass Road can be easily avoided.

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